Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Tribute To The Original Keystone Tech. Or At Least My Original Keystone Tech.

When I first coined the term "keystone tech," I was hoping it might catch on, as everyone in the profession knows there is one in every pharmacy.  To be honest though, I had one very specific keystone tech in mind the first time I typed those words. The keystone tech who saved my ass. 

Some of you know when I moved to California I was making the transition from a small town Midwestern Rubeistan where everyone knew everyone and I filled 500 prescriptions a week with no fax machine and one phone line. Three thousand miles later, I had my first face to face meeting with a full scale corporate pharmacy meatgrinder. I was now tasked with getting 800 prescription orders out the door a day. Using software I had never seen before. My new employer thought 2 days should be long enough to bring me up to speed. Those of you in the profession can imagine how it went. I will never forget the feeling of realizing I had been a pharmacist for 8 years and I couldn't get this goddamned computer to do a refill. 

When I was done for the day I would go home to my apartment with no furniture and have all the time in the world to think about how I now had an ex-wife. Until it was time to get up again and try to figure out how to get the goddamned computer to do a refill. I can honestly say there were times when I wasn't so sure I wouldn't end up crawling back to Ohio to live in my Mom's basement. 

Except the original keystone tech wasn't about to give me that option. There were 800 fucking prescriptions to get out the door every day, and like it or not, I was gonna have to pull it together and get myself over a steep learning curve. Supportive, but never shy about threatening a kick in the ass, the original keystone tech drug my sorry ass over that curve and deposited me on the other side. I didn't kid myself, I knew it had nothing to do with her having any liking for little 'ol me, but I was damn glad the original keystone tech was there. There were prescriptions to get out the door. 

Eventually things got better, but I don't have to tell you in a corporate meatgrinder pharmacy things are never good. One day some corporate types from the home office came by on one of their periodic "we're showing the little people we care" visits. They asked the original keystone tech if there was anything they could do to help us do our job. The original keystone tech told them. In no uncertain terms. It was beautiful. The corporates called the store manager the next day and told them to suspend the keystone tech for a week, thereby proving that the best way to advance in the world of personnel management is to lose your testicles. I called the corporate office. Naturally I had to leave a message. I told them that if my keystone tech was suspended, than I would be taking the week off as well. I said that if I did not hear anything from them I would consider the decision reversed and we would both be at work the next morning. I never heard anything, as returning my call would have required functioning testicles on their part. I think the original keystone tech might have liked me a little after that. 

I'm writing this because I found out tonight my original keystone tech has died. Evidently it was a violent death, but that wasn't the point of her life. What the original keystone tech taught me, besides almost everything one needs to know about how to run a corporate pharmacy, was that a person never really knows the legacy they leave behind. Today I'm not shy about telling you I'm a damn good pharmacist. If you don't employ me, you should let out a loud cry of sorrow that you once had the chance to hire me but didn't. And if you agree that I'm a cut above your average pill pusher, if I ever helped you out of a jam, if you've ever read anything here that maybe helped you out a bit, well then, you understand what I mean when I say you never really know what impact your life will have on the world. 

Because there really was a time when I wasn't sure I was gonna make it. 

I'll miss her. 

    

20 comments:

The Welsh Pharmacist said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...

I've wondered for a bit if I ever worked at your pharmacy, since I don't know your true identity. A tech I used to work with was found dead on Sunday, and she is one who would be considered Keystone. Whether or not it's the same person, it definitely sucks, and my thoughts are with you.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, man...I hope she knew that she'd made a difference for many people.

Anonymous said...

You're right -- you'll never truly understand the impact you've left on other people... but you should know that your impact has been a deep and far-reaching one...

I can't speak for anyone else, but I can say that you've saved one "hope" from a life behind the counter...

and maybe someday a new anticoagulant will result from it.


*hug*

She'll be missed *and* remembered. Steel traps don't forget.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful.

Frantic Pharmacist said...

What a nice tribute. I had a couple of keystone techs who saved my butt when I switched from hospital to retail and didn't know what the hell I was doing. And I feel bad that they sure didn't make much money.

Lipstick said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your Keystone tech. This is a beautiful post.

Impotent Wisdom said...

Your term "keystone" is apt. My keystone tech left a few months ago, and the whole structure has collapsed. I feel for you, buddy.

Clan Gordon said...

Poignant story. This RPh feels for you.

woolywoman said...

Sorry to hear of the loss of your friend.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for your loss drugmonkey. As a new pharmacist I could sure use a keystone tech like yours.

Anonymous said...

my condolences to you and her loved one.

I love the respect you show your techs, I have met too many people in the profession and members of the public who dont. I qualified last year and would be completely lost without the guidance of my tech during training and now out in the real world.

Anonymous said...

may she rest in peace.

this was very considerate and nice of you. the kind of humanity so many of us have forgotten.

neumeindil said...

*passes you the bottle*

To the people that give a shit.

sickofstupidpeople said...

So sorry to hear about your loss.
Hopefully, my new pharmacist reads your blog. He could learn from you. I have two keystone techs, and my new pharmacist refuses to listen to them - maybe because they're women, maybe because he's got the godly title of PharmD - who knows why. Just wait til the day he has to work when both of them have a day off...

Anonymous said...

One of the best posts I have read on any of the pharmacy blogs. Covers it all.
-the country druggist

The Ole' Apothecary said...

DM,

Because of your post, I shall use the word "keystone" to describe such pharmacy technicians from now on. I am pleased to tell you that I work with about 10 of them! They are indispensable and irreplaceable, and I surely listen to what they tell me. They have made my working life simpler and saved my sorry ass more times than I can count.

R.I.P., Keystone technician, and flights of angels sing you to your rest. Thank you for your much-loved service to pharmacy.

Katie Schwartz said...

Thanks for the cry. I mean that in the best way.

I am so sorry for your loss.

Beautiful tribute.

Anonymous said...

That is so sad, drugmonkey. We have two keystone techs at our pharmacy and I don't know where we would be without them.

Megan said...

very touching, as a customer I have appreciated these techs as well, they have made my experiences at several pharmacies infinitely easier. There are a few in particular that I am thinking of, I'm going to drop in and say hello to them.